One of the Bad Guys (Final Four, round 3)
For almost 4 years I had the privilege & challenge of writing a weekly editorial for The Lookout, a Christian living & devotional magazine. As I ended my tenure there, the timing fell on a series we developed about Jesus' encounters with people and what we can learn from his actions and words. I enjoyed writing these last editorials. I hope you enjoy reading them. Others in this series: round 1, round 2, and round 4.
It’s never fun to open a book and discover you relate to the bad guys. How am I a Pharisee? Let me count the ways.
For years when I read about pharisaical tendencies in the Bible, I felt chief among them. Their qualities were my qualities. Their desire for rule, order, discipline, and legalism fit my personality. But as the years went by, the more people I met, the more I discovered others' flaws as well as their winsome ways. Role models toppled off pedestals, left and right. How could heroes of mine have a dark side? Things weren’t so black and white.
At some point that fallen person was me. As good as I liked to paint myself, the picture wasn’t always pretty. I avoided the “big” sins. But did that mean I was so different from those on that route? I had my own issues, yet I somehow felt superior. Of course, that’s how the Pharisees felt too.
I don’t know when my attitude changed. Maybe it was after I served in ministry so long that no story surprised me. Maybe it was when I realized I have the same temptations others do—mine just aren’t always as obvious. Maybe it was after I saw changed life after changed life—recognizing that the end is what matters, not the beginning or even middle of the story.
That’s when I began to feel less like a Pharisee. Jesus told the crowd and the Pharisees who were listening to judge him correctly (John 7:24)—how that rings true in so many ways. Am I judging Jesus correctly, recognizing that he loves and offers his salvation to each person I see? Do I look at people with scorn or with the knowledge that everyone is given a chance at redemption through his blood?
God determines eternity, not me. Therefore let me be determined to do my part so that everyone has a chance to find out about his grace.